The Truth Project at South Canyon Baptist Church in Rapid city today was "Anthropology: Who is Man?" Here are some notes I took today.
The lesson started by asking, "What is evil? Why is there evil in the world?" This is one of the most fundamental and important questions that every person asks.
It basically goes back to what Dr. Del Tackett calls "The Pernicious Lie." That lie is the one that says things will be better if we do it our way instead of God's way. That we can get a better deal if we follow our own wisdom and desires than if we live life the way God said it should be lived.
Incidentally, this "pernicious lie" is not a new lie. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, and it's the same lie that Satan whispered to Eve when he asked, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
It's the same lie Satan told her: "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Today's lessons talked about the various states or modes in which humans live and operate. In the beginning, humans were innocent, not knowing the difference between good and evil (because evil is essentially anything done apart from the will and character of God, and they had not done anything like that before Satan's temptation). At this point, there was no sin, no suffering, no conflict, no death, no disease, and no suffering in the universe.
But when Adam and Eve decided they could get a better deal on their own than doing things God's way, they switched states to a fallen state. They were no longer sinless, no longer innocent, no longer perfect and immortal. They no longer communed with God because God, being perfect and holy, cannot join Himself with something unclean and evil. And if man dies in this fallen state, he passes on to another state, the state of Hell, which is eternal torment and separation from God.
But fortunately God provided a way to get out of the fallen state and avoid the state of Hell: the redeemed state. Transition into this state is possible when we accept Jesus Christ's way, turn from sin, and believe in his sacrifice as able to make us acceptable in God's sight.
The lesson contrasted how the Bible describes the state of the fallen man with the state of the redeemed man.
Fallen man: evil, dead, blind, deaf, lost, rebellious, without hope, haters of God, desperately wicked, children of the Devil.
Redeemed man: the redeemed, saints, priests, called-out ones, people of God, a holy nation, children of God, sons of God, beloved, wear white robes, and born from above.
Notice something about the Bible's description of fallen man, and how secular humanists describe man. What's different? Humanists usually strongly disagree with this description that man is evil, dead and without hope. They usually contend that evil is in the world simply because there are things which hold man back from being all he can be, environmental factors that make him do evil, and if we can just create the perfect environment, then man will be free to be the good being that he naturally is. The Bible, however, says that apart from the redemption of Jesus Christ that this is IMPOSSIBLE.
This philosophical and theological difference in worldview (specifically concerning humanity) is why Christianity and humanism, liberalism and conservatism, classic free market ideals and Marxism are so at odds with each other. One set understands that man is fallen and will tend toward evil (and thus builds checks and balances into their societal structures to restrain this tendency), while the other set denies this fallen nature and seeks to remove restraints in order so that man can be set free to be the good-natured being that he is.
But which of these opposing sets of philosophies bears out in the real world as being plausible, believable, and true? Are the most free, most affluent, most peaceful peoples in countries and areas where the Christian worldview has been at work, or in areas where the pagan worldview has been at work?
The lesson also points out that even after man is redeemed, he carries with him a dual nature, his new reborn nature from Jesus Christ, but also the old sinful nature with which he was born.
The Apostle Paul pointed this out in Romans 7:15, 18-20 when he said
15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
But eventually, when the redeemed person dies to this world and enters the afterlife, that old human nature he was born with is finally put to death completely.
42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
The lesson also examined the hopelessness that comes with the atheistic worldview such as the one stated by Carl Sagan in last week's less: "The cosmos is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be." If we are not answerable to an eternal authority, if there is no transcendent purpose for our being, if there is no ultimate meaning in life, then why bother existing at all???
This may be why so many American youth and so many in atheist-saturated cultures like that of Great Britain are committing suicide in greater numbers: they've thought it through (from an atheistic perspective) and come to the logical conclusion that: what's the point???
The lesson also examined the atheistic worldview from the perspective of respect for life. I've already mentioned the lack of respect for our own life in that kind of mindset. But it also leads to a lack of respect for human life in general. If, after all, like Ingrid Newkirk said in "Save the Animals," "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy," then human beings have no more value than a rat or an insect. Why should we not kill another human being if he inconveniences us, or stands between us and the fulfillment of our desires?
Ultimately, the only purpose one might find in going on living in the atheist worldview would be in living purely for ones self, purely for one's own pleasure and self interest.
Also examined in the lesson was Abraham Maslow and his famous "Hierarchy of Needs." At the top of Maslow's pyramid of needs is, of course, the need for self actualization, or the fulfillment of your desires.
Not only is this a self-centered and hedonistic worldview (one that has been sold to pop culture, by the way), it is fueled by some other ideas of Maslows that are in direct contradiction to the Bible worldview.
For instance, Maslow said, "As far as I know we just don't have any intrinsic instincts for evil." He also said, "I do not find that...evil is inherent in human nature." Really? Tell that to the victims of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and a long list of other big-time evil doers...not to mention those who have advocated and enabled 34 years of killing unborn children at a pace of more than 1 million a year.
Maslow also said, "Since this inner nature is good or neutral rather than bad, it is best to bring it out and to encourage it rather than to suppress it. If it is permitted to guide our life, we grow healthy, fruitful, and happy."
Does this sound like the "pernicious lies" running rampant in today's society that say, "If I can just have sex with whoever I want whenever I want in whatever way I want, I'll be happy." Or the one that says, "If I can just have access to birth control, I'll be happy." Or the one that says, "If I can just have an abortion, my life will be so much better." Or the one that says, "If you'd just take some of what that person has and give it to me, I'd be able to become who I really want to be."
But does it sound like something else we've heard before? As Dr. Tackett said in the lesson, "Can you hear the hiss of the snake?"
Near the end of the lesson, there was a segment of an interview with Theodore Dalrymple, who I don't believe is a Christian but nevertheless has some brilliant insights into this hedonistic mindset. I was off in my own thoughts and didn't fully catch what he said at one point (at least, not fully enough to write it down verbatim), but to paraphrase he said that in the hedonistic worldview, where Christianity and other authority structures are viewed as obstacles to self fulfillment, those who pursue this self-centered worldview can actually rationalize the pursuit of selfish pleasure into being a virtue.
We see that one played out over and over again in pop culture, as "tolerance" is king, tolerance seems to be the religion of pop culture. Because "tolerance" enables me to pursue all my desires without interference from anybody else, and without value judgments, and without guilt.
Next week's lesson will be "Theology: Who is God?" See you there?